Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Top Tens: Movie Bookshops

I was laying bed last night and the idea for this post just jumped in to my head. Sadly this meant I had to get up and make some notes. For a (former) book dealer this should have been an obvious post a long time ago but I was trying to avoid my other love - movies and books shouldn't mix, I wish somebody would tell Hollywood!

A little google will bring up several other similar lists it seems and incredibly the initial four scenes I thought of were on these lists. Fresh ideas were needed otherwise what's the point? This required my superb memory (and asking Leah for help.)

10. When Harry Met Sally... (1989) Dir. Rob Reiner

One of my favourite movies from when I first started watching film, the mid 90's provided me with Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan on one of only three VHS tapes in the house, lucky it was so funny and sweet and actually interesting to a teenaged boy.

The bookshop scene is the moment when Harry and Sally meet for the first time in years and actually start to become friends, so in the scheme of things it's a pretty important moment and has a few laughs, including visual humour such as being in PERSONAL GROWTH, I don't think I'll have what he's having.

9. Annie Hall (1977) Dir. Woody Allen

The Oscar winning film from master film maker Woody Allen, showcased the darker and the softer sides of the (at the time) renowned comedian features a memorable scene in which he introduces Diane Keaton to the pessimistic side of his personality. I'll let the clip speak for itself:

8. Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets (2002) Dir. Chris Columbus

I believe the shop is called Flourish and Blotts, which is a terrible name for a bookshop in my opinion. But it does have a lot of books, look at them all piled up everywhere, the sign of a book lovers dream come true. The great thing about the scene from this movie rather than when we return in later instalments is that it's the first appearance of my favourite character/performance of all 8 movies, Kenneth Brannagh as Gilderoy Lockhart.

7. Notting Hill (1999) Dir. Roger Michell

I can't help but enjoy Hugh Grant, the fact that he almost always plays the same character doesn't bother me because ever since I saw Four Weddings I've felt like I identified with his bumbling Englishness. Notting Hill is a nice movie, despite Julia Roberts and her giant face, it has a fair few laughs and a famous travel book shop that no longer exists apparently. I will not hold the fact that it is merely a travel specialist shop against it as the following scene contains several things that have happened in Elizabeth's bookshop in the past year or so; an unexpected celebrity arrival (see blahblahblahloves Emma Thompson for full anecdote,) the bookseller (me) making a fool of himself/the customer choosing to ignore the bookseller's intelligent recommendation, the removal of a book from a thiefs underwear (see review of Jen Campbell's book Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops for full anecdote,) and Dylan Moran. My friend Chloe returned from the little girls room to find a shop empty except for Bernard Black himself sitting behind the counter and she promptly freaked him out by hugging him. Go Chloe! Yes, we were all very jealous of her fortuitous bathroom break.

6. Before Sunset (2004) Dir. Richard Linklater
The beautiful sequel to Richard Linklater's brilliant Before Sunrise, this time in Paris, who could resist? The bookshop in question is none other than world famous, in real life, Shakespeare & Co. of Paris. The same bookshop seen in Woody Allen's recent charmer Midnight In Paris infact. The scene in question is the moment the pair of lovers from the Before Sunrise are reunited after nine years as Ethan Hawke is giving a reading from his autobiographical novel based on his experience of the first movie. The bookshop is important to the scene which in turn is important to the movie and Shakespeare & Co. should get at least one mention don't you think?

For lovers of Paris on film I also highly recommend Julie Delpy's directorial debut Two Days In Paris which co-stars the excellent Adam Goldberg.

5. Funny Face (1957) Dir. Stanley Donen

Things to know about Funny Face: Audrey Hepburn is the most beautiful bookseller I've ever seen. Fred Astaire is creepy looking and the relationship between the two of them is massively off-putting. The film itself is bizarre and features an even stranger 'bohemian dance sequence' in a Paris nightclub. The bookshop has a wonderfully ancient feel to it, despite the exceedingly cinematic spiral staircase, who wouldn't want to climb up those rickety old wodden steps to find the rare first edition of Graham Greene's first novel that was never reprinted with an incorrect price tag?

4. Ministry of Fear (1944) Dir. Fritz Lang

It was an OK adaptation, filled with some brilliant cinematography and featuring a crazed Nazi bookseller. There's always a place for Fritz Lang and noir here on blahblahblahgay. Check out the full review from our noir-a-thon.

3. Easy A (2010) Dir. Will Gluck

Emma Stone didn't win the Oscar, you may call me crazy but I would suggest that she should have. The bookshop in question is in real life the world's largest outdoor(!) bookshop Bart's Books and was privileged to find itself playing host to the following Q&A with the girl with the pocketful of sunshine:

  • Olive Penderghast: Do you have a religion section?
  • Bookstore guy: It's right over there. Can I help you with something?
  • Olive Penderghast: The Bible.
  • Bookstore guy: That's in bestsellers, right next to Twilight.
2. Beauty and the Beast (1991) Dir. Gary Trousdale & Kirk Wise

It was Leah's major contribution to the post, personally I don't remember the scene but she assures me it is a major contributor to what people of our generation think of when they consider the typical antiquarian bookshop, especially those ladders on wheels.

1. The Big Sleep (1946) Dir. Howard Hawks

Phillip Marlowe at his best as played by Humphrey Bogart in this classic adaptation of Raymond Chandler's noverl. It actually features two bookshops across from each other. One the hideout for an illicit operation, the other an excuse for Marlowe to pass time with the bookish girl, ridding her of the unattractive glasses and ponytail and proving that She's All That had some noir class at it's core.

EDIT: The first comment caught me short, I realised the post wasn't actually finished. The pleasure of having put the list together seems to have caused a brainfart.

I should mention that I discounted Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind despite the creepiness of Elijah Wood in Barnes & Noble and Serendipity because it was just plain dull as far as movies go. And as for the following question just what the hell did I forget? Alan has got a head start, feel free to leave your complaints in the blahs.


  1. What? No 10 Things I Hate About You? Welcome back, Toby.

  2. Alan!!! If I could remember the scene you're talking about I'd say that was the greatest suggestion for this post ever. Care to elaborate?

  3. I love this, great idea! Some of my favorite films revolve around books and libraries, I see. There's just something about them. And thanks for recommending Two Days in Paris, sounds fun.

  4. Awesome list! I wish Dylan Moran would walk into MY shop, wow! We could yell at all the customers together. And yes BEAUTY AND THE BEAST's bookshop is definitely one of my first thoughts when I think of the old-timey kind with ladders on wheels, since it was probably my first introduction to that idea as a kid.

  5. I've got a few suggestions if you do a library post, but the only memorable bookshop scene I can think of is The Neverending Story.

  6. @FF - Books themselves are not a social thing (unless you're reading to each other) but Hollywood does love the bookish girl and the bookshop meet-cute seems to be a trope that they'll happily mine. I always go to book shops with new friends, it's a good way to get a feel for who they are don't you think?

    @Alex - Apparently he wasn't even drinking wine. The Beauty & The Beast thing is probably lost on me because I was past the initial Disney stage in my life. It is not exactly aimed at a boy aged 10.

    @BT - I know I've seen it but I can remember almost nothing of it. Watching that movie for the first time late at night when you're 21 is probably not a good idea.

    I may put a library post up at some point, every suggestion I made to Leah in researching this one we realised was a library not a bookshop.

  7. It's been a while since I've seen 10 Things I Hate About You, but here's what I remember: Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger doing some verbal fencing and Heath Ledger pretending to buy The Feminine Mystique.

    BT picked a good one. The old man in that antique leather chair reading The NeverEnding Story.

  8. I believe I should take the opportunity to rewatch this film, especially as JGL is now a much deserved megastar and Juia Stiles is ripe for a "Whatever Happened To...?" post.

  9. I had forgotten that exchange in Easy A. Thanks for reminding me.

    One scene not on the list that comes to mind is Diane Lane starting to be seduced by the used book store owner in Unfaithful.

  10. I admit to never having even considered watching that movie Chip. Book seduction is very sexy though.